You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2013.

It is inexpiable for someone to have an extreme anxiety to a fall. And in fall, I mean failure. It is not normal. It’s not in our nature as a human being. But at the same time, it’s natural for failure to come and visit us time and time again. Like they always say, rub the dust off your shoulders and move on. And we did, sometimes nonchalantly and sometimes not as easy as it may seem.

But hear this, from a different perspective; it’s not actually how difficult it is to teeter on a high wire, or how do we survive if we fall. It’s more on managing the expectations of the paying spectators.

It is all a show, people!

Having not eaten dinner last night, I was famished to the bones this morning. The forty-five minutes drive to the office was filled with me craving and fantasizing on the succulent lontong at Rubiah Suparman’s restaurant. I may have been drooling in my car but I don’t care. Maybe it didn’t happen. I can’t even remember which mp3 playlist I put on the stereo player, or if whether I was listening to the radio. But I did remember clearing up a few moist pieces of tissue papers from my car at the office parking when I arrived.

*****

Hastily, I settled my things in the office. I can’t even be bothered to even glimpse and greet my colleagues. Maybe they were not in yet, hence the unknowingness. I seriously don’t remember. In my mind was all lontong, lontong & lontong.

Soon after, I walked cheerfully across the main road, strolled through the mother & child government clinic (a not too short, short-cut) to the next commercial building. Ah, I was getting near. Just a few units ahead.

And then, there he was, of all people. The annoying Prudential insurance agent that has been sucking money from almost everybody around me (at least in the office). He was sitting noticeably at a table near the main entrance of Rubiah Suparman’s restaurant, face facing the five-foot-way. He saw me and gave a sinister smile.

This is not happening! I refused to engage direct eye contact with him and kept walking ahead. I can vaguely see that he was signaling with his hands for me to join him. Too many incidental conversations have been made with this guy previously and I’d rather be hit by a car than to have another redundant conversation with him (irony: hit by a car – insurance agent). My pace became faster as I walked past Rubiah Suparman’s restaurant. Since he knew I knew he saw me (dafuq?), I gave an insincere smile until he was no longer in sight.

But I still needed my lontong fix right? No worries. A guy like me always has a plan B.

I walked to the end of the building and continued turning into the back-alley of the same block. When I’m exactly at the back of Rubiah Suparman’s restaurant, I knocked the kitchen door. An Indonesian kitchen crew opened the door, puzzled. “Saya mau masuk, makan”, and he let me in.

Like a mouse, I sneaked slowly through the kitchen and tip-toed to a vaguely located table near the washroom. I can still see the Prudential insurance agent at his table, being a prick (sic), while drinking his morning coffee. I sat down, face facing the washroom, my right shoulder adjacent to the concrete wall. I was confident that the guy could not see me when he pays for this breakfast at the cashier counter.

Alas, I managed to savour the tenderness of the rice cakes, the creaminess & the richness of the lodeh gravy, the nuttiness of the rustic peanut sauce and the sweetness of the spicy sambal. Not to mention the smokiness of the burnt kerisik. Mission accomplished.

Come to think about it, I think I’m the prick in this story.

Months earlier, Buk and Ajan both agreed that the trip was too short. “Six days? Minus the travelling days, just four solid days to explore Tokyo? Good luck to that my friend”. With wicked sneers on their faces, they shared the same sarcastic tone. Both were Japanese university alumni whom I asked to meet for tips & bits of what not and all the bumbling things about Tokyo. I vowed that I’ll optimize my time there. A vow that I’m not willing to break. Or maybe in reality, a vow that I can’t afford to break. A vow to myself, witnessed by Buk and Ajan.

*****

At first Naza told us that the express bus service would be at the Shinjuku station. After having a couple of Onigiris each for breakfast, we made our move from Shibuya train station to Shinjuku. Alas, his internet source was wrong. A train station personnel in Shinjuku told us to go back to Yoyogi station. We turned back. It was almost 10:00am. Naza and Jim were still enthusiastic. Amir was indifferent since the day before. Maybe he was more concerned about the bunion he had contracted. As for me, I was starting to feel that all this was wrong but I kept my feelings to myself.

From Yoyogi train station, we had to walk about a kilometre in a big U-turn to find the bus terminal. Upon reaching the place, we found out that the last bus to Gotemba for that day had just left at 10:20am. It was only 10:24am when we arrived at the terminal. Looking at Naza and Jim’s pathetic and sorry faces, the ticket counter lady told us that all hope was not lost yet. She told us to go to Tokyo station to catch another express bus to Gotemba. We were back on the Yamanote train line, off to Tokyo station. Amir was still wondering about his bunion, at least that’s what I thought.

In the not so compact train to Tokyo station, Amir found a vacant seat and positioned himself at ease. As the train were making stops at its intended stations, people were starting to fill the coaches. Three stops later at the Ebisu station, a Japanese lady entered our coach, carrying a baby in her arms. She stood in front of Amir as there were no empty seats left. I noticed that Amir’s eyes were rolling from side to side with guilt. Disregarding his bunion, he offered the lady his seat. In a typical Japanese manner, the lady bowed and utter, “Arigato-gozaimasu” as she sat on the seat, her baby on her lap. Another nine stations to go before reaching Tokyo station. While standing in front of the Japanese lady, every time Amir made eye contact with her, she would slightly bow her head down whilst her mouth was making gestures of uttering “Arigato-gozaimasu” in silence. After five unintended eye contacts, it was getting too awkward for Amir.  Four stops later, Amir moved away, standing at a safe distance from the lady.

We reached Tokyo station at about 11:15am. We finally got ourselves return express bus tickets to Gotemba. It was the last return trip for that day. Departure was at 12:20pm and return at 5:20pm. We had about an hour to kill before departure. Outside Tokyo station, there was nothing much. Well, at least nothing much to do when you have less than an hour to kill and on foot. We wasted our time inside the underground commercial area beneath Tokyo station.

The bus ride to Gotemba took one and a half hours. Naza and Jim occasionally dozed off. Amir did doze off a couple of times but in his mind was still his bunion (I think). As for me, I can’t help myself from feeling restless. My mind was racing thoughts of “what am I doing?”. To ease myself, I spend the whole one and a half hours looking outside the window, relishing the sight of the journey from Tokyo to Gotemba along the Tomei Expressway.

To cut the story short (as I am not interested to go into details of what happened in Gotemba or perhaps I refused to remember the details out of regret), we arrived at the Gotemba Premium Outlets store at approximately 2:15pm after a short shuttle bus ride subsequent to the express bus trip. Let me rephrase my earlier statement. We finally arrived at the Gotemba Premium Outlets store. Gotemba Premium Outlets store. Wait, what? Does the name sounded familiar? Does it has anything to do with the Johor Premium Outlets store? You bet your ass it does! It has the same parent company which was the Simon Property Group, Inc. in the US. Basically it was like being in the exact same shopping outlets but in a different country. Oh, how I loathed myself for this. Did I mention earlier that I hate shopping? Well, now you know. It was the most horrific three hours of my life. Since it’s in the middle of nowhere, and it was raining heavily, in the cold, wet, autumn weather, there’s nothing else that I can do but to look repeatedly at myself in disgust.

Then it got worse, because of a traffic jam due to a peculiar circumstance that I could not comprehend, the return journey using the same route took us three and a half hours before reaching back to Tokyo. The only consolation for that day was dinner at Tenya’s, our regular Tenpura Donburi joint in Shibuya. I must admit that I stuffed myself quite excessively at the Ten-Don joint that night, like a girl on a stress/emotional eating disorder to forget her recent breakup. Jim was gleaming with pure pleasure. His hedonistic fix for shopping has been partially fulfilled.

Oh, what a waste of a precious day in the land of the rising sun!

*****

Buk and Ajan laughed their asses off when I told them this story.

 

*I wonder what ever happened to Amir’s bunion.

At first it was kinda heated. Well, we didn’t know each other that well. But as the discussion went on, it clicked. He would nod a few times throughout the conversation. Sometimes as I was stating my points, he squawked in disagreement. At certain times, he would repeat my words, agreeing to my awesome points. Occasionally he would scratch his limbs with his grey claws, an act of confusion but I knew deep down inside, a creature as intelligent as him was just faking it to make the dialogue more fascinating.

I must admit, he was really, really helluva creature. An enlightening experience with a valuable piece of specimen.

Maggie couldn’t differentiate between the truth and utter garbage. Whether the naivety was on purpose or by chance was beyond me. But I still stood by, patiently.

*****

That day, the scalper was nowhere to be seen. He was a phony. Everyone who listened to Maggie describing the scalper would immediately conclude that he was a phony. Everyone but Maggie.

When the day ended, he broke down and cried. I still stood by, patiently and refraining myself from saying, “Maggie I told you so”.

There are times during interviews with rock stars or sport stars or whoever that’s being buoyed by social stardom entitlement, when an answer would be like,

“You know, I don’t know… You know”

 

What?

Ask me the question again. Just once. I won’t do anything. I promise.

Cat got your tongue?